Covington-based restoration artist Gianna Salande, above, returned “Entombed Jesus,” a circa-1940s plaster statue of the expired Christ, to St. Alphonsus Church in New Orleans Jan. 4 after devoting nearly a year to its complete overhaul.
Salande said the crumbling, mold-filled statue captured her heart as she reassembled broken plaster, created new fingers and toes, and repainted the piece in its original palette. Jesus’ eyes required just a minor touch up of pigment, while his pierced feet had Salande repairing and refabricating toes. A special gel that completely encased the statue upon hardening will protect it from the elements for decades to come, Salande said.
In its former life at neighboring St. Mary’s Assumption Church, “Entombed Jesus” was displayed just two days each year – on Good Friday and Holy Saturday – to remind worshipers of the presence of Jesus in the tomb. The supine figure would be removed from its grotto backdrop before the first Easter Mass – to signify Christ’s resurrection.
The refurbished statue currently lies atop a painted wooden altar on the church’s side aisle, above. “Entombed Jesus” can be viewed during St. Alphonsus’ opening hours of Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.